I have always been fascinated by how people are attracted to a particular craft or art form. For me, I developed an obsession with jewelry by the age of four and would beg my mother to let me “organize” her jewelry drawer. I would pile on as many rings, necklaces, bracelets and pins my toddler size frame could hold. Of all of the pieces in my mother’s collection her Norwegian brooches stood out the most. The fine silver filigree designs with their delicate disc shaped drops tinkled and sparkled like small waterfalls.
I was born in Decorah, Iowa, home to the Vesterheim Norwegian- American Museum where I would spend hours looking at the silver jewelry and bridal crowns. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Iowa City with a Master’s Degree in Metalworking and Jewelry I later traveled to Norway to study traditional “bunad” silver jewelry.
I attended Raulandsakademiet Folk School in Telemark where traditional crafts like rosmaling, weaving, acanthus carving, etc. are taught. It was there I first saw a Swedish woman in my class wearing several unique braided bracelets. She explained to me the technique was a craft associated with the Saami, Scandinavia’s indigenous people.
Our daily jewelry class was very intense and at the end of the day I would relax by watching her weave the pewter thread into different designs and sew the finished braids to strips of reindeer hide. Needless to say I was hooked and I am as excited about teaching this craft as I was 15 years ago when I made my first bracelet.
I can say with certainty my Norwegian heritage was the spark that influenced my interest in traditional and contemporary craft today.
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